Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Some Music Snobs Simply Suck

An Open Letter

First off, I love NPR. For the longest time it was the only channel I listed to in the car. Then I discovered the NPR music channel. Thank the sweet baby Jesus! A radio station that plays music, and it's music you like and are surprised to hear on the radio and you have to tell everyone you know to listen! In North Texas it's 91.7 but I think you can find your cities station from the NPR website. Example of it's awesomeness: Right now it's playing Billy Idol "Dancing with Myself". I've heard everything from Regina Spektor (live on their Mountain Roads program), Neko Case, Rilo Kiley, Nina Simone, Elvis Costello, John Lennon, Monsters of Folk, Lucinda Williams, and Johnny Cash. Simply, it is awesome.

So today on my way to lunch I heard something different on the station. They played a clip of a song or past program and then a clip of an answering machine message from a listener telling them why their comment was wrong or right. Kind of cool. What struck me was one particular listener who has a big problem with some band called Crystal Castles. The gist of it was: The DJ was wrong in saying they were a great concert, he should know he's seen them four times. They are always late, drunk, have technical problems, and lights glare in his eyes if he's in the front row.

Uh, is this guy crazy? If they suck so hard why have you seen them four times? I can understand twice, but do you never learn? He said he was not going to see them next time they came to town, not because of how horrible he believes the live show to be but because tickets are $30. Dear listener: You are a moron.

First: We've all been to bad shows. Maybe the sound was off, or your seats were bad, or they sounded nothing like the CD. The fact is, this happens. What's amazing is the number of times a person will let this happen to them with the same band. Example: I love Alkaline Trio. When I was college aged and living in Austin they were the best- romantic punk songs with a good beat. Friends told me how awesome their live show was. So, of course, I went to one. It was not awesome. Maybe it was the 100+ degree heat, I don't know. The band was so drunk they forgot the lyrics to their songs. Many times the singer wasn't even singing into the mic, he would just wander off. He fell down a couple times. It was a let down, but I was willing to try again. After all, several people told me they were awesome. The 2nd time I saw the show the same scenario played out. Now, I'm all for drunken rock star antics- who isn't? Another time I saw a singer so drunk she kept hitting herself in the face with the mic. This actually worked in her favor as her music was not getting any great response from the audience (Okay, it sucked). However, I also want to hear the songs. I want to sing a long and pogo. It's really tough when the band is off. So, I never went to see them again. See, I learned my lesson.

Second: What show ever starts on time? The day I go to a show that starts promptly at ticket time is the day I marry a gorilla. It's never happened and I don't care what you are going to see it never will. Be it punk rock, blues, folk, or opera; it will start late and probably end early or run over. This is a fact. So, quit your belly aching and remember to call in sick the next day to work.

Third: Sound problems/technical difficulties happen everywhere and to everyone. Sometimes you're lucky and the sound guy is on it and corrects it within a few songs. Sometimes the sound guy has gone "out to lunch" and you are screwed. Hell, this happened to me at a musical. I've been to this venue multiple times and never had a problem. However, on this occasion the mic volume was so low you couldn't hear anything but background music. This is a real problem at a rock opera, trust me. If it's chronic for this band or that venue then STOP GOING. It's very simple really.

Fourth: The lights are bothering you? Maybe the music's too loud for you to. Well Grandpa, buck up. Take a seat further back from the stage. Don't stand next to the monitors. Bring ear plugs. Think a head and learn from the past. You're at a rock show. It's going to be loud, sweaty, and possibly dangerous. I've been stepped on, kicked, punched, and poked in the eye. It's my own fault; I like to be near the front, but I know it's coming and now I prepare myself. I don't wear flip flops to shows. I find the burliest guy I can and stand next to him. I pay attention to fools with backwards facing ball caps.

Finally, concert ticket prices are getting too high. I'll give that one to our fair listener. There are bands I've never heard of charging $30 or more for a ticket at some crummy theatre and it's ridiculous. Learn your place in the pecking order. Arena's can charge big bucks because they showcase big acts- house hold names, top 40, legends. Joe Blow from Kalamazoo is not worth $30 at the run down theatre/club that decided to build a stage. So, venues: Knock it off! Labels and bands: stand up and demand fair ticket prices. Trust me, you'll get more people at $20 a head than you will at $30 which means MORE MONEY.

In closing, 91.7 angry listener: Grow up and grow a brain. It's no ones fault but your own you went to see this band four times. It's no ones fault but your own that you never learned what to expect. It's no ones fault but your own that you came off as a big tool on the radio. Thank god you at least knew not to give out your name.


  1. "I pay attention to fools with backwards facing ball caps." That made me laugh so hard. But it's true. I personally don't go to shows because I know what to expect, especially at certain venues. As for the sound guys, we do our best, but when you're running like 30 mics, it gets a little complicated, so a little trouble here and there is to be expected.

  2. Dan the Music SnobAugust 25, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    I believe the show you are referring to is "Sound Opinions" which I have enjoyed hearing on KXT.

    The review of Crystal Castles spoke only to their new album, not to their appearances at concerts, and I didn't catch the response from the listener, but I can provide a few additions.

    Crystal Castles grew a notorious reputation for appearing incoherent, drunk, late, or not at all while touring, with several appearances at festivals where I can understand a "fan" saying he has seen them four times, mainly by seeing them with multiple other performers to justify attendance. The appearance in Dallas on a bill that was also to include Alan Palomo (Neon Indian, VEGA) created a lot of upset fans due to the ejection of Palomo from their tour, and the eventual cancellation of the show, amidst rumors that Alice Glass had to procure a fix instead of performing.

    Pitchfork still has a nice summary of this brouhaha here:

    I agree with your other points that a concert goer should practice a little "caveat emptor" philosophy. Mainly, I avoid any band that I think could appear on a Michael Bey soundtrack!

  3. @never too busy- Man I tell you. You get hit ONE time in the eyeball by a baseball cap and it scars you for life! Personally, I want to give a bit thank you to all the sound guys (and gals) out there. I know how tough that job is.

    @Dan- I missed the original story on KXT, just heard a bunch of sound bites related to that and other previous stories. It makes a bit more sense now. Crystal Castles sounds like a show I'd want to see once. Do they fall off the stage? Do you get a refund if they don't show? Outside of the festival circuit, if you pay to see them 4 times you should be forced to pay me $20 everytime you think about going back to a show. I'd rather sit at home and listen to the record (and I do mean vinyl)

  4. It's a good thing that shows never start on time, because I'm pretty sure gorilla marriage isn't legal in Texas. But I'll totally fight for your right to do that.

  5. @alone with cats- Thanks for your support in legalizing gorilla marriage. I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea, but hell... what can you do?

    PS- If shows started on time than I would always be late to them, so it's a good thing they're late too!

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